How Panama Canal navigated COVID, drought and trade war

The Panama Canal debuted a $5-billion-plus set of larger locks in 2016, only months before a trade war broke out between the U.S. and China — the waterway’s two largest transit sources. The canal, which relies on water availability, suffered one its worst droughts ever in 2019. And then came the coronavirus. Carriers slashed Asia-East Coast services transiting the canal in the second quarter of 2020. In the third quarter, U.S. importers flocked to Asia-West Coast services boasting faster transit times.

And yet, despite all of this, the canal is not in crisis mode. Far from it. Overall cargo volumes are increasing as gains in some segments offset declines in others.

To see how the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) navigated COVID, drought and the trade war, FreightWaves analyzed transit statistics — including those not openly available to the public — and interviewed Silvia de Marucci, the executive manager of the ACP’s division of economic analysis and market research.

“We continue to grow,” affirmed De Marucci. “Even in a pandemic. And that is very reassuring.”

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Source: American Shipper